Road safety experts believe that autonomous vehicles have the potential to virtually eliminate traffic accident injuries and deaths, and the American Transportation Research Institute has been studying the impact that self-driving trucks could have on the logistics industry. The Virginia-based nonprofit organization released their findings in a Nov. 15 report. However, poorly designed roads and regulatory challenges are seen by the group as the biggest impediments to the widespread deployment of autonomous commercial vehicles.
While most experts expect self-driving vehicles to usher in a new era of road safety, the ATRI report points out a number of issues that will have to be overcome first. A tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds could be turned into a formidable weapon, and putting effective systems in place to protect autonomous vehicles from hackers is crucial, according to the ATRI. The organization also calls on state and federal lawmakers to embrace the technology and facilitate rather than hinder its development.
The development of autonomous commercial vehicles will greatly impact the duties of truck drivers. Experts say that human beings will still be needed in the cabs of self-driving trucks, but hours-of-service rules could soon become a relic of the past, according to the ATRI. The group says that mandatory breaks will no longer be necessary because autonomous vehicle operators will be able to rest and perform their duties simultaneously.
The copious amounts of information gathered by autonomous vehicle systems could also provide accident investigators with crucial information, and even the data recorders currently in use may give law enforcement agencies and personal injury attorneys a far clearer picture of what transpired in the moments before a commercial vehicle collision. Distracted and fatigued driving issues have plagued the logistics sector, and data showing that evasive action was not taken prior to a collision could be used by attorneys to establish negligence in truck accident lawsuits.